Freelance Round-Up: This Month in Writing

What would you do to get a good story?

A US writer has set journalists a conundrum – would they break the law to get a good story, even if they could potentially lose their job?

In the scenario set by Washington Postcomedy columnistGene Weingarten, the reporter in question is profiling “an ordinary man involved in an issue of national importance”, but he can’t get his subject to fully open up.

Later, the subject offers the reporter marijuana. The reporter believes that if he declines the marijuana he will lose his chance to build rapport and get a good story, but he also knows that reporters are not permitted to break the law on any assignment and it’s a sackable offence.

Readers are invited to take a poll about how they feel the situation should be handled. The poll also covers other journalistic quandaries such as whether it would be wrong to include material gathered at the party and how much the reporter should tell his editor. You get to see the poll results so far too, which might surprise you…

A quarter of journalists on less than £20,000

New interim research findings have shown that around a quarter of journalists earn less than £20,000 a year.

This is according to the results so far of a new UKjournopay study which 300 journos have responded to to date.

The survey is being carried out by Francois Nel, director of the Journalism Leaders Programme at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. She launched the survey after South Yorkshire Times editor Jim Oldfield revealed that he was being paid £25,500 a year, despite having 37 years’ experience in journalism.

Through the study, journalists arebeing asked to reveal their full-time equivalent salary. According to HoldtheFrontPage, initial findings have found that pay for journalists ranges from £5,000 to £90,000 per year. The website reports: “The low figures are thought to account for freelancers but official numbers for these will not be correlated until the survey is complete.”

Journalists have until the end of August to take part in the survey.

Freelance journalist recruiting for an apprentice

A slightly more heartening story now…Freelance journalist Janet Murray has this week announced that she is recruiting an apprentice.

As well as to allow her to manage her workload better and take on new projects, Janet says profit isn’t the only reason she is looking for help. She writes in the Guardian: “Through my work as an educational journalist, I've spoken to dozens of apprentices over the past few years and, without exception, I've been amazed by their maturity, commitment and willingness to learn.

“I believe we all have a responsibility to pass on our skills and experience to the next generation. And, in my own small way, I want to challenge the way we educate young people and prepare them for life.”

The apprentice will be paid £6.08 per hour and will help with research, transcription, developing story ideas and, eventually, writing. The chosen candidate will work with Janet four days per week and attend Harlow College one day per week.

The post is currently being advertised via the National Apprenticeship Service's online vacancy matching site. I suspect Janet will receive A LOT of applications…



18th August 2011

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